ONE of our favourite chefs, Robert Owen Brown, is providing the taste of Salford for one of the Manchester International Festivals most innovative initiatives the Biospheric Project.
Which is absolutely appropriate as his award-winning gastropub, The Mark Addy, is a mere mile away along the banks of the Irwell from the Projects hub at former printworks Irwell House.
This urban farm experiment filled with innovative sustainable food systems, from agroforestry to aquaponics, will be open to the public for a fortnight from Friday, July 5. It looks set to be one of the stars of the 2013 Festival ...and its wholefood farm shop, 78 Steps, a valuable legacy for the local community.
The MIF has announced a huge programme of free events, including a Family Fun Weekend, with tickets now available (booking essential): http://www.mif.co.uk/event/the-biospheric-project.
The first public tours of this innovative research hub, part-farm, part-lab, start on Saturday, July 6, along with an in conversation event with project director Vincent Walsh.
The two-hour public tours (also on Sunday July 7 an Saturday July 20, developed with Manchester Blue Badge Guides, consist of a guided walk along the River Irwell to The Biospheric Project, starting from Festival Square in the city centre of Manchester.
Guests on the tours will learn about the historical context of food and the city, visit the different spaces of The Biospheric Project and find out more about the growing systems being developed in and around the building. Chef Owen Brown will be creating tasty morsels inspired by the variety of crops and ingredients grown on site.
There will also be two cooking workshops with Cracking Good Food (http://www.crackinggoodfood.org) culminating in a dinner party created with ingredients inspired by The Biospheric Project crop list.
Monday, July 15 (6-9pm)
Wild shitake mushroom risotto using homemade stock with a parmesan crisp and micro herb salad followed by a layered pud of seasonal fruit, rose tinted hazelnuts, yoghurt and borage all served in an up-cycled chilled jar.
Tuesday, July 16 (6-9pm)
Salford snail porridge with sorrel and purslane tempura fritter, sprinkled with red amaranth micro herb followed by sustainably-farmed rainbow trout with nettle and wild garlic pesto on a black pea, chickweed and foraged green salad. Lemon verbena posset with Biospheric berries.
The Biospheric Projects local fresh food distribution scheme, WholeBox, is already in action and July sees the opening of their own grocery shop, 78 Steps, which will sell locally grown fruit and vegetables and organic wholefoods. The shop will eventually be stocked with crops grown at the Project, taking the distance between production and distribution of the food to just 78 short steps. The plan is for the Project hub to continue as a research centre.
The Biospheric Project, Irwell House, East Philip Street, Salford M3 7LE. Fri July 5-Sun July 21. Free admission; booking essential. Tickets available from Friday, May 24. Visit mif.co.uk/biosphericproject
The Biospheric Project is commissioned by MIF Creative and Salford City Council. Produced by Manchester International Festival and The Biospheric Foundation. Supported by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and players of People's Postcode Lottery.